b'have more than 30 properties that KOA Weve discoveredand its not thatowns as a company, and they are ag- we want to put ourselves in a boxbutgressively expanding as well. There are weve discovered that those companiesoccasions where we compete with each arenotinterestedinbuyingone-offother, but that hasnt gotten to the point smallproperties.WhenIsaysmallwhere it has become a big issue. parks, I mean parks that offer betweenKOA does do an excellent job at its $1 million to $2 million a year of rev-companypropertiesoftryingnew enue. We think that is an area wherethings and seeing what results they get RAC is interested in playing, and I thinkbeforereallypushingitonitsfran- we provide a good option for ownerschisees. KOA is also good at coming up that have one or two parks that are inwith new ideas that may make sense, that range and want to sell.and were always willing to listen. Then Its expensive to buy a property nowI guess we make our own decision as to becauseyourepurchasingacamp-whether it fits and suits our purposes. ground that is basing revenues off itsWCM: There is a lot of development best numbers ever. Because theyve hadand park-buying going on in the RV park record years for so many years in a rowand campground sectors. Has RAC been now, so that number is the number you The Mount Rushmore KOA at Palmer Gulchfocusing on acquiring or developing new start with when youre buying a camp- Resort serves as RACs corporate office.parks,orhaveyoubeenfocusingon ground. Then they want to sell it to youworking with what you already have? at a really low cap rate, too, which also day at the park.Cutler: We are very interested in ac- makes things very expensive. WCM: You and your dad practicedquiring parks, and we are actually in the WCM: How has RAC worked through- lawasfull-timejobs,howhasthatprocess of working on obtaining our out the years to adapt its parks to what changed the way you manage and op-14th park, and we hope that comes to- the camper is expecting?erate RACs parks? gether by April 1. We are actively out in Cutler: My dad always said, Were not Cutler: Fromdayone,ourcamp-the marketplace looking for acquisition in the camping business. Were in the grounds have been operated much dif-opportunities. entertainment business. And weve al- ferently than an owner/operator-ownedWe have not built a park from scratch, ways kept that in mind. I mean, we ob- park where you own the property andalthough our Leavenworth/Pine Village viously are in the camping business, but manage the park by yourself. I have twoKOA has been completely rebuilt. We ac- we have always run our properties for youngerbrothersChris andJustin. lent work camper program that we par-quired that property two years ago, and the most part as fun places for families Both of them are employed by RAC and ticipate in, and we hire a lot of workit was in rough shape. We have spent to come and spend time. And so, over have offices at Palmer Gulch. My son, campers.about $4 million at that park, bringing in the years, what weve really been focus- Dylan,actuallymanagesourparkin Our company has always focused onabout 40 deluxe campsites with patios, ing on as far as improvements at our Fredericksburg, Va., now, but my dad and store sales, and we do well with ourfurniture, and grills. Cavco Industries Inc. campgroundsislodges.Thosehave I have always practiced law as our pri- stores. To keep our managers busy dur-built RAC 10 lodges, and we have also been very popular. We also have built a mary occupation and weve always paid ing the slower parts of the year, we sendcompletely redone the sewer, water, and lot of deluxe sites on our properties, managers to operate our properties. them to merchandising shows to pickelectrical systems. Our contractors were which feature cement patios and furni- Thats one of the hard things when we up ideas for products that might work atable to use the large rocks they found ture that is set up and ready for campers go to buy a campground. A lot of times, our stores. We also invest most of ourduring excavation in the parks landscap- when they arrive. the owner/operators dont pay them- capital back into the parks, so there areing, and the park just looks sensational WCM: A lot of RACs parks are located selves a lot of money, which is fine. They always projects going on, some smallernow. It wasnt built from scratch, but we near tourist destinations, where there can take it out as distributions, that type and some larger, that keep our peopletouched almost every part of the park are plenty of things to do outside of the of thing, but our management style is busy. Managing one of our parks is awhen we rebuilt it. park.Doyouworktotryandkeep more expensive than if youre running it full-time,year-roundjob,whetheraWCM: What is RAC looking for in a campers at the campgrounds, or do you as an owner/operator operation because park is open or not.park before buying it?recognize that they may be leaving the we have to hire and pay a manager to be WCM: Lookingtowardthefuture,Cutler: Location is crucial for us. With campground for a while and then com- atthepark,whereasifyourethe how does RAC stay relevant and keepthe exception of our parks in Tennessee ing back? owner/operator, you can choose to pay up with camper trends? andFlorida,wevegenerallybeen Cutler: Our Holiday- and Resort- yourself whatever you want. Cutler: We have a full staff at our cor-northern tier park owners. Having parks branded campgrounds have plenty to WCM: Plenty of park owners have is- porate office, including a marketing per-in proximity with one another is kind of do onsite, should a family choose to stay sues retaining employees given the sea- son and another person who focuses onnice, too, because then the park man- there during the day, whether it is a sonal nature of the business. How do merchandising. They work to keep up onagers at each park can help each other swimming pool or kids activities, like you retain employees from year-to-year?industry trends and standards, and theyout when needed. We also want proper- tie-dye T-shirts. Halloween is a huge Cutler: The majority of our parks are are in communication with KOA regu-ties that we believe have the potential to deal at a bunch of our campgrounds. open year-round, but obviously, busi- larly. And like I said, the biggest thing thatobviously develop additional sites and PeoplewillcomeandhavebigHal- ness can slow down quite a bit. RAC weve done is we have continued to in-grow the business. loween decorating competitions. probably has about 50 year-round em- vest in and improve our properties. AndIts important that were able to buy If people come to our parks, they ployees, and in the summer months, we I think that is no different than any otherthe parks at a price where we can get a may want to have a day where they go will have up to 800 total employees. The business. You need to have amenitiesgood return on our investment. Thats and visit whatever there is to see in the number of people we employ fluctuates and you need to have nice parks to havebecome harder and harder here over area, and they may choose to stay a day significantlyfromthewintertothe campers want to come and pay the ratesthe last few years with companies like just at the park because their kids want summer months. We often get a lot of to stay there. Its no different than a hotelSun Communities Inc.fiercely compet- to play in the pool or at some of the the same employees coming back year- room. If you have a hotel and you donting with other such firms. They are buy- other amenities our parks offer. We al- after-year. Some of our parks have high replace the carpet for 20 years, at someingparksatcapratesthatwecant ways make sure there is plenty to do at school students who have worked at the point, its going to affect your business,compete with. the park itself if they choose to spend a parks for years. KOA also has an excel- right? WCMRAC works to invest capital into all of its parks, like the Harpers Ferry/Civil War Battlefields The Leavenworth/Pine Village KOA Holiday was a complete rebuild project for RAC, butKOA Holiday, on an annual basis.the end result is amazing, according to Kent Cutler.16 -April 2020Woodalls Campground Management'